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COURSE NAME: "Research Practicum "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Junior Standing

This upper level seminar/practicum provides rigorous, practical preparation for the writing of professional art-historical research papers, including the Senior Thesis, through four discrete units: an individual portfolio review; a research tools and methods seminar; intensive, directed bibliographic research; and the formulation of a presentation to the class on the thesis topic, together with a new 'foundation' portfolio demonstrating mastery of the research skills, competencies, and bibliography necessary for advanced art-historical research writing.
This seminar/practicum leads students through the process of self-review, practical skills acquisition, and bibliography building needed for a successful research and writing of their Senior Theses and other advanced projects in the history of art.  The course unfolds in four discrete units:  an individual portfolio review; a seminar in research tools and methods; intensive, directed bibliographic research; and the formulation of a presentation to the class on the thesis topic, together with a new 'foundation' portfolio demonstrating mastery of the research skills, competencies, and bibliography necessary for writing the thesis or another high-level research paper.  A highlight of the course will be visits to important research libraries in Rome, with hands-on exercises using.  While the course is aimed at degree-seeking art history majors, all students with the appropriate pre-requisites and an interest in refining their professional research and publication skills are welcome.

Students will:

·       formulate and refine a senior thesis topic through the evaluation of their own prior research, the keeping of a research diary, and  identification and assessment of pertinent, peer-reviewed bibliography;

·       assemble an exhaustive bibliography pertinent to the thesis topic, together with a personal, professional research portfolio, or “tool box,” consisting of style sheets, library cards, and the like;

·       master the practical skills, especially bibliographic development, research-library use, record keeping and style-specific citation, required for writing the senior thesis and other professional-level publications in art history.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
How to Write a ThesisEco, UmbertoMIT PressISBN: 9780262328746 Available as an ebook through the John Cabot University Frohring Library
Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral ThesisBolker, JoanHenry Holt (New York)ISBN-13: 978-0805048919 ISBN-10: 080504891XREF LB2369 .B57 1998 
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Each student generates own bibliography according to needs of thesis.na/avariesvaries  

Bibliography with content summariesFull bibliographic citations and content summaries of at least twenty-six substantial, scholarly, peer-reviewed sources (articles, books, book chapters) or scholarly editions of primary sources pertinent to the intended thesis topic. Two summaries are due at the end of each week during the term starting the second week of class and are kept in the student's personal dropbox folder for the course. Total minimum number of summaries required for the term: 26. For citations please use Chicago-Notes and Bibliography or Turabian style. Summaries should be 200-300 words long but may be more substantial. Important: this is not an annotated bibliography but rather a bibliography with summaries of real content. Reading the summary should be an adequate, if abbreviated, substitute for reading the source itself. 20
Research diary and toolkitA personal journal, kept daily, narrating progress on the choice and development of the thesis topic and, as the semester progresses, gradually becoming the 'zero draft' of your thesis. Diaries should include daily entries through the term, recording ongoing thoughts about the project, the discovery of sources and resources, frustrations, road-blocks, questions and break-through discoveries, the gradual formulation and refinement of the chief research questions, and, eventually, a writing up of your findings that can be used as the building blocks of your thesis. Diaries may be keep as digital files, blogs, or handwritten journals. Students are encouraged to illustrate and document the diaries with photographs and drawings. The diaries are a means of thinking and exploring in writing and have as their objectives: defining and refining a thesis topic, documenting the thought process, 'forming a writing addiction' (Joan Bolker's term), and beginning the process of actual thesis writing by 'thinking on paper' or on a computer screen. In addition to the research diaries, students are required to write a brief summary (150-300 words) of each reading, in-class exercise, guest lecture, library lesson, or library visit undertaken during the course. These items are kept together in a dropbox folder and gradually come to constitute a toolkit for reference during the thesis-writing process.20
Thesis prospectus and literature reviewA concise, written exposition of the thesis topic--the work(s) to be analysed and the guiding research questions--accompanied by a succinct review of the chief primary and secondary literature on the topic and a timetable for completion of the thesis. All elements must be approved by the student's First Reader before the end of term. 20
ProfessionalismWeekly exercises, assiduous note-taking, collegiality, punctuality, presence at all class meetings, positive attitude and active engagement, contribution to discussion, constant inquiry, openness to new approaches and methods, independent exploration of resources for research: libraries, museums, galleries, attendance at scholarly conferences and talks, correspondence with other scholars, etc.20
Final presentation to the classAn illustrated, state-of-the-question presentation to the class on the chosen thesis topic, in the form of a verbal grant application20

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance and punctuality at all class meetings are mandatory.  Course grades and progress will depend heavily upon active participation.

Some class meetings will necessarily take place outside of the normal course schedule and will be decided in consultation with the students once the semester is underway.  Flexibility is of the essence.

If you have a mobile phone, please turn it off at the start of each class meeting and do not turn it on again until class has ended.  If you use a mobile phone during class, including for sms messaging, you will be asked to leave the class, with a resulting unexcused absence.  The same holds for computers, except on those occasions when the instructor authorizes their use for class exercises.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Sample Syllabus of Meetings - Working draft, subject to change. We will formulate dates together based on the needs of the class and of individual projects. Please see updated version each week in class folder.

Class no.


Assignments due


Introduction to the course: rationale, structure, assignments, goals

Nota bene: There are three regular assignments through the term: (1) Two bibliographic entries with content summaries per week, strarting the second week of the term; (2) Daily research diary entries; (3) A very short (100-150-word) pro memoria for each reading, library lesson, library visit, or special lecture. Items (1) and (3) should be kept in your personal dropbox folder for the course. Item (2) should be kept there, as well, if you are keeping the diary in digital form. Additional special assignments are noted below.


Discuss Bolker Intro and Chs. 1-4



Discuss Eco, Chs. 1-2



Open forum - Your ideas for the thesis



Discuss Bolker 5-7



Analysis of Your Past Research Papers - strengths, ideas, things to improve



Analysis of Your Past Research Papers - strengths, ideas, things to improve

Submit summary of your analysis of past research papers in dropbox.


Eco Ch. 3; Topic progress reports w/ pictures & questions (5 slides maximum)



Library visit: BIASA - Meet at 1:15 at front entrance of Palazzo di Venevia. Class will end at about 4:00. Bring a government-issued picture ID and search terms for your topic.



Day off to compensate for double class meeting on 2/13



Library lesson with Eleonora Moccia



No class meeting



Topic presentations w/ pictures and questions (continued)



Special Library Friday: GNAM (9:30), MAAXI (11:30), BNCR (2:00-c.3:30)



JCU Past Theses - in-library exercise and analysis



JCU Past Theses (continued); Student reports (continued)




See 'Footnotes examples' in dropbox. Please peruse the three articles and assess the fucntions of their footnotes. How many different kinds of footnotes can you detect? How different purposes?


Library lesson with Eleonora Moccia






Lit reviews



Lit reviews



End-of-term assignments: overview



Abstracts: preliminary & ex post facto



Abstracts (cont.)

Please submit a draft of your prospectus to dropbox before your come to class.


Visit to the Norwegian School Library. Meet at front door of Guarini at 1:15 pm



Final presentations


Final exam period

Final presentations